AUSTRALIA RENEWS CALL FOR PNG INQUIRY REPORT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 5) - Australia has renewed calls for the PNG Defence Force Board of Inquiry Report into Julian Moti’s clandestine escape to be made public.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) the report - just like any independent government report - should be subject to public debate in Papua New Guinea. He indicated that the publicizing of the report could determine future ties between Australia and PNG.

"The Prime Minister (Sir Michael Somare) doesn't believe he, having read the report, that the report is fair and so bearing that in mind he thinks it's best it not be published. Now in our country, of course, you could never do that, you'd never get away with that as a prime minister; you'd always have to publish an independent report. But you know from our point of view, we'd like to have the report published and there to be public debate about it and for the Papua New Guinea public to make up their minds about it, and obviously it would influence anything we might do in the future as well," Mr. Downer said.

Moresby Northwest Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta leaked details of the confidential report recently at a news conference, prompting Sir Michael to release a statement warning that Mekere could be in contempt of court.

"Sir Mekere’s little ploy to threaten the release of his clandestine copy of the Moti Report is sensational and ill advised. The matter is still before the courts and Mekere could find himself in contempt of court," Sir Michael said.

The Grand Chief has taken the Justice Gibbs Salika-chaired PNGDF board of inquiry to court to declare its proceedings null and void, arguing that its proceedings were not conducted in line with PNG law.

The Moti saga strained relations between Canberra and Port Moresby last year, leading to the cancellation of the December 2006 PNG-Australia Ministerial Forum and evoked a ban on PNG politicians traveling to Australia.

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